I had five minutes to myself Sunday morning. The dog wasn’t awake yet and my two teenagers were still snoring. I sat down to read the newspaper. It was pure pleasure. I feel like the only person on the planet who still reads a physical newspaper. The digital versions always leave me wondering if I’ve read all the day’s news. I spread the paper out flat, just the way I remember my dad reading it when I was a preschooler. He read the paper on the living room floor amidst all our toys and games. This morning I never got past the headline. It reminded me of one of the most important assets we each possess, our voices. Continue reading
Tag Archives: women’s voices
Have you ever found yourself at a moment when you weren’t sure about your next steps? We all get there at some point or another. It can happen suddenly thanks to an unexpected event like the death of a loved one. It can happen in a more planful way when we decide to leave a job or when a child leaves for college. It can happen thanks to a recognition deep down that something just isn’t right. I’ve been fascinated by these moments for the better part of the last five years. I’m convinced that it is these moments that leave us at the doorstep of transition. What do you do when you find yourself at a moment when you’re not sure how to proceed?
Some respond to these moments with nothing more than a dismissive shrug. I hear this crew say, “Life. It’s just life.”
I smile politely when I meet these people. I will never convince them otherwise.
For those willing to respond to uncertainty with an open heart, I’ve learned that these moments are enormously important opportunities in our lives and in the lives of those we touch.
It is at these junctures that we have an opportunity to grow; to re-calibrate our voices; and to contribute more of our unique gifts to a world desperately in need of such contributions.
A simple one. Trust ourselves enough to bring voice to those things that hold value and meaning for us. Whatever this is or wherever it may lead.
One woman in my research told a powerful story recently that spoke to this task.
Hers started with a wrenching and destabilizing moment.
By 26, Lizbeth was immersed in an extremely competitive academic research lab. She realized, “This is not who I want to be.”
The realization was crushing.
“Up until that time, the package was defined. The package of me that is. It was stamped and it was on the truck going to its destination. I didn’t know what to do. I was feeling very confused and very lost and alone.”
Lizbeth toyed with leaving academia but was terrified by what that world might hold for her. “I was aware that if I don’t want academia, who am I? I had always thought that my attractiveness to other people was about being smart. If I didn’t want to offer that and be in academia anymore, then who am I? Transition was such a whopper. It wasn’t just a positional transition it was like a massive identity transition.”
Lizbeth made a decision to move away from academia. She described that decision as momentous. She wandered a bit. She needed to excavate and exercise her voice. It was circuitous. Messy. She got a little lucky. She slowly made progress. “I think I also got to the place of accepting not knowing.” She imagined all sorts of possibilities and gave herself the permission to try.
I now think of uncertain moments as invitations. We can accept or decline them. Accepting can be downright scary.
Could acceptance be viewed as an act of courage?
We live in a time that shuns those who are in a place of ‘not knowing.’ Think about it. How often have you felt the need to communicate to others that you’re on track? Heading in the right direction? Engaged? Successful?
These social norms can also direct us to ‘go quiet’ when our paths open up to uncertainty & possibility. The irony in all of this is that our voices falter even more if we react to uncertainty with silencing our voices.
“I am finding my voice.” Said a 51-year-old woman to me the other day. Imagine that. Her comment was unprompted. I wanted to cheer out loud.
Next time you find yourself at a moment with no clear path forward, take a minute to recognize it as an opportunity. Trust your instincts about what may be at play. See if you can’t use your voice to take one step in the direction of an imagined possibility all your own.
Is it time to turn up voice’s volume?
Have another minute? Read some earlier blogs about Voice:
Thank you for reading. Take a moment to comment below or tell me what’s on your mind: email@example.com
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“Can I finally start?” It was a question that popped into my head unwittingly as I sat in my office last week. I was trying to shake off the exhaustion from the holidays and begin an avalanche of work that I’d queued up for the New Year. Start what? In acknowledging the question, I felt as if I was on the edge of tears. It took only an instant for this feeling to pass. Even so I realized I’d crossed an important milestone for my transition, one that makes me think about New Year’s Resolutions and new beginnings a little differently. Continue reading
“You’ll be one of the best next year,” offered my son. Unprompted. He is eleven. We were in the kitchen. It was Sunday three weeks ago. I’d just decided to not participate in a sprint triathlon, an event for which I’d been training for months. A quirky injury sidelined me. I was crushed. In the grand scheme of things this was minor – hardly a blip. If I was still pre-transition, I would have simply gone on that day and not said a word about it to anyone. Instead, my transition inspired me to give voice to my disappointment. I was struck by my son’s humanity and emotional intelligence. Our typical exchanges are single words conveyed over an electronic device. His pivot made me reflect on how much of myself I can bring to interactions with others. It is my choice just like it was his. I can mimic the sentiment of his single word responses or his deft comment. How much of my voice do I choose to engage? Continue reading
“I don’t know,” said my twelve-year-old daughter earlier this week in response to a benign question I asked her about choosing a movie. Her tone was light-hearted if not a little distracted. My heart fell as I listened to her response. How could she not know? I hoped we’d avoid this unknowing if only for a few more years. Have you ever heard yourself say a similar statement? I don’t know. Continue reading
“We need your voice,” I said in closing a workshop with about a dozen women on a Saturday in early September. I was making a connection between an exercise we’d done on developing our own voices and the needs of our national economy. I view the development & expression of women’s voices as fundamental to our country’s long-term economic well-being. For me it’s an easy and obvious linkage – although I won’t bore you with the details here. What surprised me in that Saturday moment was the reaction I got. The attendees were honestly touched. My comment seemed to elevate our work. It connected every one of us to something greater. Our voice work was instantly relevant. Meaningful. Continue reading
I’ll never forget an interview I did for my book….. One afternoon a mid-forties woman who had three sons joined me for coffee in an artsy bakery in Pasadena, CA. She agreed to talk with me about her transition, triggered by an empty nest. Shortly after we began we unexpectedly turned our focus to an earlier transition, her decision to leave the workforce. She offered, “there was a lot of pressure on me to buy into the concept of being a full-time mother.” Her husband and her in-laws voiced strong opposition to her continuing to work. Financially she and her husband thought they could get by on one salary. Neither of her own parents were living. She said of her experience, “I was the guilty party for wanting to pursue my work. It was a particularly difficult time.” Continue reading